You could go anywhere, trade anything and do what you wanted. Now one of the original creators, David Braben, wants to bring the game back.
They are planning for a release in March 2014 if they get the funding and you can get a digital copy of the game if you donate £20. The more you donate the more goodies you can get.
Here is what he had to say about the project:
“Elite” has gone down in history as one of the most successful games of the 1980s. It was the first ‘open world’ game in which the player can freely roam a vast space. It was the first true 3D game too, and set many other benchmarks. Ian Bell and I set out to make a game for ourselves rather than for some imagined market. We were sick of games with three lives then a new life every 10,000 score; we wanted something new.
The original “Elite” fitted into around 22K of memory, out of a total of 32K on the BBC Micro Model B computer on which it was launched (8K was needed for the screen, 2K for the system). This is less than a single typical email today. In it were eight galaxies each with 256 star systems. Each planet in those systems had its own legal system, economy and so on. Clearly some magic had to happen to fit it into 22K, and that magic was procedural generation.
“Frontier” followed in 1993 on 16 bit computers, and pushed these procedural techniques further. In it I made a model of the whole of the Milky Way galaxy with all 100,000,000,000 or so star systems, and many more planets and moons, each of which you could visit. It is something I am really proud of, as it was as scientifically accurate as I could make it, and provided a great backdrop for a game. I loved the richness of the galaxy, but with the benefit of hindsight I think the way the ships flew detracted from the joyous immediacy of those in “Elite”.
Imagine what is now possible, squeezing the last drop of performance from modern computers in the way “Elite” and “Frontier” did in their days? It is not just a question of raw performance (though of course these elements will make it look gorgeous), but we can push the way the networking works too – something very few people had access to in the days of Frontier.
Frontier Developments, the company I founded in January 1994 (and whose first product was a version of the “Frontier” game for the CD32 console), is now a very well established game development company with 235 people in the UK and Canada, with its own technology and tools and a great team of game developers. We have a long track record of delivering high quality games on time and to budget, both published by ourselves and through big publishers like Microsoft, LucasArts, Atari, and Sony.
Elite: Dangerous is the game I have wanted Frontier to make for a very long time. The next game in the Elite series – an amazing space epic with stunning visuals, incredible gameplay and breath-taking scope, but this time you can play with your friends too. I want a game that feels more like the original “Elite” to fly, and with more rapid travel (to allow for the multi-player nature of the game) – so you travel quickly using local ‘hyperspace’ travel rather than by fast-forwarding time – but with the rich galaxy of Frontier – and more, so much more.
I’ll be frank – we have had a couple of false starts on this over the years, where progress wasn’t as good as I wanted. Also, understandably, other projects have been prioritised – projects with announced dates or other commitments. Up to now “Elite” has been worked upon by a small team as a ‘skunk-works’ activity in the background as availability permits. Nevertheless, we have been preparing; laying the technology and design foundations for when the time is right. And that time is now.